Washington State University
BUSINESS POLICIES AND PROCEDURES MANUAL

ORGANIZATION
10.25
Revised 11-12
Government Relations
360-534-2332

Reporting State Lobbying Activity

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OVERVIEW

University employees who engage in lobbying activities are required to keep track of and report all applicable lobbying activities. This section defines state lobbying and provides procedures for quarterly reporting of state lobbying.

STATE LOBBYING

Contacts With State Officials

The University encourages employees to have good professional relationships with state elected officials and to be responsive to questions and requests for information.

The University particularly encourages faculty and staff who work in communities around the state to have contact with public officials, including local legislators. Contacts with public officials may provide information concerning University programs offered in particular legislative districts and University assistance available to address local needs.

Lobbying Activities

Many contacts with elected officials are considered by state law to be official "lobbying" on behalf of the University. State law provides restrictions and reporting requirements for public employees who engage in lobbying activities. See below.

Activities usually considered to be public lobbying include:

Required Notification

Prior to contacting elected officials, employees must discuss all potential lobbying activities with their dean or supervisor and contact the Office of Government Relations.

Activities Permitted

WSU employees are permitted to use University time or resources to provide factual information to public officials or answer questions.

Activities Not Permitted

WSU employees are not permitted to use University time or resources to:

These restrictions apply to telephone calls, electronic mail, letters, in-person conversations, and other forms of communication with legislators.

WSU discourages employees from hosting legislators for meals, drinks, gifts, or entertainment. There are exceptions to this policy which should be discussed with the dean or supervisor and Government Relations.

Activities Forbidden

WSU employees are forbidden from using University time or resources to engage in partisan political activity. See 60.90. State law also forbids employees from campaigning for or against a ballot measure, except to comment on direct impacts to University programs. (RCW 42.52.180)

In many cases, it is not legal for state employees to encourage other people and constituencies to contact legislators.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

The Office of Government Relations submits a quarterly summary to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission of all time and expenses associated with in-person lobbying by WSU employees.

Each employee who spent any time in-person state lobbying must submit a State Lobbying Activity Quarterly Report. The State Lobbying Activity Quarterly Report is an online form available at the Government Relations Lobbying website at:

http://governmentrelations.wsu.edu/Lobbying.html

The quarterly report must include:

Online submission of the state lobbying report must be completed within twenty working days after the end of the quarter covered by the report. The online reporting process transfers the information to the Office of Government Relations and the Office of the President. No additional paper documentation is required.

ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM LEGISLATORS

Timely Response

University employees are responsible for furnishing timely answers to lawmakers and informing them of the benefits of WSU education and research programs.

Completeness and Accuracy

Employees are strongly encouraged to check with Government Relations before completing any response to elected officials and their staff. Government Relations assists in:

Release of Unpublished Research Studies/Findings

Employees are to obtain approval from the college or campus dean prior to releasing any unpublished research study information and/or findings.

Reporting and Prior Notification

Employees should recognize that their answers to questions might be regarded as "lobbying," particularly if the answer is framed to persuasively affect legislation.

All lobbying activity must be reported to Government Relations. Many of these contacts, by law, also need to be reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Conferring with Government Relations on legislative concerns is always advisable. Also, the dean or administrator must be aware of lobbying contacts in advance.

Response Requirements

Employees must:

PERSONAL OPINIONS EXPRESSED TO LEGISLATORS

WSU staff and faculty are entitled to personal opinions, including those contrary to University or college administrators. Neither WSU policy nor federal or state laws restricts an employee's right to express personal opinions outside the workplace and without the use of University time or resources.

WSU asks employees to recognize that it is hard for members of the public, including reporters and legislators, to differentiate between an official University position and a personal opinion.

For Employees' Own Protection

Employees should take care to stipulate to state and local officials that the personal opinions expressed are their own and not necessarily those of their employer.

If employees inadvertently cross into communication outside of the guidelines for a "personal opinion," they and the University are subject to state lobbying laws, reporting requirements, and possible fines for engaging in illegal lobbying activity.

Employees are strongly urged to consult with the Office of Government Relations.

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

The Office of Government Relations is responsible for:

Assistance

For further information and assistance regarding state lobbying activities, contact Government Relations at: